Finally, New York’s Implementing a Wealth Tax.
For anyone who follows United States politics at all, it’s no secret that the state of New York is among the most representative of the institution, the machine that is the Democratic party and the corporate interests that shape it so extensively. That said, in recent weeks, there have been a series of legislative wins for those among the more progressive wing of the party. After years of promising to do so and falling short, my state finally voted to not only legalize marijuana, but expunge past convictions and concentrate the majority of the wealth expected to be generated by its legalization to the communities most affected by its criminalization. It doesn’t end there. In a move that could potentially bring in revenue amounting to $4.3 billion a year, the state is poised to vote on and implement a wealth tax beginning with those who earn more than $1 million a year.
Needless to say, it is long past due.
New York State is home to some of the nation’s most wealthy. The home of Wall Street, banks, venture capitalists and the like, and subsequently home to a significant portion of the country’s capital. Instead of that wealth being hoarded by some of the world’s richest people, the money would be reinvested into the state in the form of assistance for small businesses, rental assistance for tenants who are struggling, and cash payments for undocumented immigrants who didn’t get a stimulus check. Plans also indicate money will go towards increases in education spending, and corporate taxes will be raised from 6.5% to 7.25%.
This is a result of not just a Democratic supermajority among state lawmakers taking power, but the election of lawmakers who are actually inclined to represent their voters after years of organizing, grassroots campaigns, and steadily increasing pressure on the ground to deliver for their constituents, and not just Wall Street or the city’s real estate empire. That said, above virtually everything else, it’s a signal of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s steadily decreasing influence in the state.
Joe Biden might have swept in to salvage Cuomo’s crumbling career following allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women and lying about the deaths among nursing home residents caused by his Covid policy, but that hasn’t stopped the lawmakers of New York from letting the Governor know that he no longer has the hold on them that he once did. I’m not sure even Cuomo’s “supporters” would deny the fact that marijuana legalization and the implementation of a wealth tax certainly would not have happened if the Governor was still ruling the state with an iron fist. Two or three years ago, it would have been unheard of, and it is admittedly satisfying to see Cuomo no longer in a position to really do anything about it.
Finally, it’s about time for the people of New York to get legislation that serves their interests, and not the interests of those who the Governor finds himself beholden.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how this works for Cuomo in the future come his time for re-election. Will it curry enough favor with the voters to allow him another term, or will the donor class cast him aside to ensure they get someone who can once again effectively implement the agenda they want?